Evil Dead: The Musical director Deb Flomberg on the production's unique challenges
Singing, dancing and demonic possession have never come together quite like they do in Evil Dead: The Musical. The production, which kicks off this Friday at the Bug Theatre, combines plot elements from all three of the films --Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness -- and then adds songs like "All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons," "Look Who's Evil Now" and "Do the Necronomicon" to make one batshit crazy take on the timeless tale of possession, dismemberment and death. If that isn't enough, it also throws in a "splatter zone" where the audience gets covered in gore. Groovy.
Before Evil Dead: The Musical starts its four-week run on Friday, August 23, we caught up with director Deb Flomberg to learn about the show's history, what it took to bring the musical to life and how a splatter zone enhances the experience.
Westword: How on earth does something like Evil Dead: The Musical come to be?
Deb Flomberg: It was actually adapted for the stage by a small theater company, I believe in Toronto. Pretty sure it was Toronto. It was for a Fringe Festival up there, and then all of a sudden it turned into this massive hit. Then from there, as the story goes, it got a life of its own and it was picked up by a theater off Broadway in New York and it was running there for a while. Rights actually have been restricted. Even though it had been running for a few years, the rights only got released recently. It was running in Vegas, then it was running in New York and L.A. and that was about it. Then the rights, it was only in the past year or two that they made them available.
We're actually the first production in Denver. I would have said we had the Colorado premiere, but CSU up in Fort Collins got to it before I did. They beat me to the Colorado premiere a few months ago, but that was a student production. It's a little different than a regular, somewhat professional production.
Are you a big fan of the Evil Dead films and zombies in general?
I've been a fan of the films from way, way back, and of zombies, too. I've been part of [the stage adaptation of Night of the Living Dead for five years now. So yeah, huge zombie fan, huge Bruce Campbell fan, I've seen everything Bruce Campbell has done a million times. Then I found the soundtrack, before the rights were even released, so I've known the music for a few years. The music is really fun. It's one of those shows where I listened to the soundtrack from beginning to end. I put it in my car, and it's on repeat. I would listen to it over and over again, deciding that as soon as we could, I'd want Equinox to do the show.
It was one of those shows that as soon as the rights became available, we realized the technical challenge of the show was a little bit daunting. You need a singing, giant moose head. You need trees that rape people. You need a hand -- he has to chop his hand off, on stage. He has to chop someone's head off on stage. Copious amounts of stage blood. It's such a technical show that it's a little bit daunting at first. Then a friend of mine, Gene Kato, he did the production in Texas. Then he found out he was moving back to Denver and bringing all the props back with him, and they were done, so it was one of those beautiful moments where it was like, "Okay, we're going to rent these and make it more possible for my company to handle those kinds of elements." Gene has been an amazing help figuring out all the technical stuff.
What can you tell us about the "splatter zone"?
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It's amazing. People are very excited to get covered in blood. Basically, it's the first three rows, and we have a lot of blood rigged and various effects we have built into the show. It's actually what the show is known for. It's one of the things they advertise, the Vegas production, the New York production, the Canadian one, they all advertise "It's the only musical with a splatter zone!" So when Ash is cutting his hand off, the audience will feel the blood. I joke it's like Gallagher without the watermelons. We will have ponchos available for anyone who doesn't want to get their clothing wet or dirty or ruined. The bulk of the blood is fairly washable. It will be a blast. If you're a huge fan, then it's the perfect way to see the show. Anyone who's a big fan of these shows obviously wants to get covered in blood. Why wouldn't you? It's a lot of fun. That's why they call it the only 4D musical.
Anything else we should know about the show?
What I'm really amazed with is the caliber of the production. The Evil Dead throughout several incarnations that have been done across the country has been a little bit low-budget. Al little bit -- gotten mixed reviews and that kind of stuff, because they tend to put a lot of the emphasis on the splatter zone and not the show itself. We've gone to great expense to make sure that this is a fully realized, really strong production. My cast is absolutely incredible. Jason Lythgoe, who plays Ash, is so fantastic, down to the Bruce Campbell chin [laughs]. He even looks the part. Everybody in the cast is fantastic.
They have a live, four-piece band, so it's not prerecorded music. We're giving a nice, good, full live band. It's a really well-realized, high-production value, really great musical that's going to still give Evil Dead fans a chance to live the show. But even if you're not an Evil Dead fan, you've never seen the [movie] before, if you just like silly shows and like to come and laugh and have a good time, it will still be enjoyable for those who aren't Evil Dead fans, because it will be a fully realized production.
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